When they say time flies they are not kidding. It is hard to imagine that I am now celebrating twenty years of working at the Brampton hospital. The hospital granted me privileges right out of residency and I declined my plans for more advanced pediatric training to work in the community.

I have never regretted it. Coming from beautiful Victoria BC many have asked me “ why are you here?!”. But after training in Montreal and Toronto I enjoyed being somewhere new. And I was received with open arms by the ( all male) surgical colleagues at Peel Memorial. They were a great bunch.

I was the first female surgeon ever at the old Peel Memorial Hospital and perhaps was somewhat of a novelty!?
I admit after a few years I looked at returning out west and was offered a position at a busy hospital in Vancouver. My chief of surgery at the time back in Brampton took me aside and said
“ Catherine, we want you to stay. What can we do for you to make this happen?”
It was such a lovely message, and led to a pivotal decision to stay in central Canada.

I have immensely enjoyed working with the staff at Brampton— experiencing the electrical fire and evacuation of Peel Memorial, watching 9-11 unfold with patients in the fracture clinic waiting room, SARS , the big transfer to Brampton Civic, the association with Etobicoke General, the re-opening of PMC, and the marked expansion of the plastic surgery division—- there aren’t many more women surgeons in the whole department … but there are a few more now! To be honest though gender has not made one difference, as my colleagues to a person are talented , affable and dedicated. What a wonderful environment to work.

Today COVID has brought us to a totally different place. But it has been yet another opportunity to be invited into patients’ lives with virtual consults and follow ups. It is a great pleasure see a patient’s kids running around in the background, or have them describe cinnamon buns they are able to make post hand surgery ( I went home and baked my own after that call as I craved them all day !).

There are so many patients I have been privileged to meet ( over 60,000 and counting), and I still deem it a great honor to work in this community. There is nothing nicer then when meeting a new patient they say “oh, you operated on my neighbor, or a guy on my hockey team, or my sister …” and be able to pass a “hello & smile” back through the grapevine.
Despite COVID we are not socially isolated at all.. far from it.

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